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20 years of satisfied purchasers and suppliers

Millum was established 20 years ago with the aim of creating a marketplace for both purchasers and suppliers in the food service industry. Today, the company is an established player in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. But how was the road there, and why did Millum become such a central player, as it is today?

By: Sofie Vatle 10.01.2023 09:38


How did the company Millum come about?

- Millum arose like a phoenix from the ruins of a dot.com bankruptcy in 2002. The idea was to create a global marketplace for everyone who makes purchasers and everyone who would sell. We also had experience from developing a simpler purchasing solution for a purchasing collaboration in the hotel and restaurant industry that is still alive and well: namely the GRESS group. A solution that the customer was very satisfied with and that we, together with the customer, believed had potential for the entire large household industry (SHH) in Norway and perhaps also in several countries. In other words, a significantly more focused market where there were big gains for the players by using an increasingly sophisticated purchasing solution, says one of the founders and General manager, Bjørn Anskau.

What was the breakthrough?

- The breakthrough for Millum was clearly entering into our long-term collaboration with the GRESS group to develop a marketplace for SHH in the Nordics. GRESS was clearly the necessary breaking point to get the suppliers on board and what got the snowball rolling, Bjørn continues.

What position did you want to take?

- We had, and still have, great faith in being industry-focused because expertise in the particularities of the individual industry puts us in a better position to develop the best solutions for this industry. This means that we are going to continue our investment in hotels, restaurants and canteens and initially expand our geographical catchment area to include not only Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but the entire Nordic region. Here, the ambition is to be the leading provider of P2P solutions (Purchase 2 Pay) for this industry. We think that is within reach.

Having said that, there is also ongoing work to assess other industries where we can take the same position. We still believe that industry focus is important, and new industries require new expertise from us. But our business model and technology are suitable as a scalable platform, says Bjørn.

Are there any of today's customers who have been involved from the start?

After the GRESS group came the member-owned purchasing organization Nores, with which we collaborate closely in both Norway and Sweden. Then Nordic Choice Hotels and Umoe Restaurant became customers, who have also been with us for 15-20 years. All our customers stay for a very long time, and our close collaboration with them all bears more of a long-term partnership than an ordinary customer-supplier relationship. Eventually this has developed into a network collaboration where new and old participants benefit from more people joining. The benefits increase for everyone as more and more players in the Nordics become part of the same network, Bjørn elaborates.

How many employees did Millum have at the start?

- I think there were 9-10 of us when we started, and right now there are 35 of us.

Can you name any milestones so far?

- I would say the first milestones were when we got Choice and Umoe in Norway, then Choice and Nores in Sweden. Then we reached critical mass and more and more customers came, whether they were new purchase customers such as e.g. NHO Reiseliv The purchasing chain, or all their various suppliers. The smartest choice we may have made was to focus on the SHH industry and enter into our partnership with the GRESS group.

In the B2B market, the expectations for the solutions are to a much greater extent characterized by the fact that the users now have a completely different relationship to the use of technology as private individuals than was the case when we started. The users make higher demands than before, because they are much more competent, and they expect even more from us as a partner. For us, this means that we use more resources than ever before to develop our solutions, Bjørn concludes.

The name Millum

Millum is Old Norse for "between". That is exactly what Millum's solutions are, the technology and systems that link other solutions together for the best possible customer experiences.

What are Millum's plans for the next 20 years?

Millum will continue to develop and adapt the purchasing system to the best of all parties. We will also go from being Norway's largest to the Nordic region's largest purchasing system for hotels, restaurants and canteens. We are well underway with that work.